Societe Generale wins first crypto license in France

abdelaziz Fathi

SG Forge, the crypto arm of French banking giant Societe Generale, has become the first company to secure a license to offer buying, selling, trading, and custody of digital assets in France. This approval for France’s third-largest bank reflects the increasing trend of mainstream financial institutions embracing cryptocurrencies on a global scale.

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The country’s financial regulator, Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF), has officially granted the license, enabling SG Forge to offer a range of crypto-related services.

While numerous native crypto firms, including giants like Binance, have registered with the AMF, Societe Generale’s unit stands out as the first to receive the coveted license. SG Forge has been listed as a registered digital asset service provider by the AMF since October 2022, following clearance from the country’s top regulator, the Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution (ACPR).

Cryptocurrency firms are obliged to get a fully-fledged license to operate in France as of January 2024 even before the upcoming EU regulations take effect. The applicants will go through rigorous review, particularly around the topics of anti-money laundering and combatting terrorism financing, before receiving regulatory approval.

SG Forge is one of the first to use public blockchain for regulated security tokens. Apart from issuing a bond for Societe Generale on Ethereum, the European Investment Bank also issued a €100 million bond using its platform. It has also been involved in central bank digital currency (CBDC) trials with the Banque de France, and created a framework, CAST, for security token issuance.

Currently, France is home to approximately 74 registered crypto companies, and this number is expected to grow further. As the European Union’s Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) rules were recently approved by EU ministers, a final round of firms is seeking to anticipate the implementation of these regulations. With a regulatory framework that offers relative stability and a supportive ecosystem, the number of registered crypto companies in France could potentially surge to 100.

French officials have recently offered a warm invitation to American crypto companies seeking a more predictable regulatory environment amidst the uncertainty and crackdown in the United States. Amidst the evolving regulatory landscape there, characterized by increased scrutiny from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the offer from France may indeed be alluring to crypto firms.

Circle, the issuer of the second-largest stablecoin by market capitalization, is already seeking to get a dual registration in France as it aims to on-shore its flagship product for the European market – EUROC – a reserve-backed stablecoin.

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